Vit B-3 (Niacin): Calming Agent and Chemical Sensitivity Buster?

Cort

Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
The only time I've taken niacin or B-3 by itself was during Dr. Rea's sauna program. Niacin was taken before getting in the sauna in order to help flush one's system of toxins.

If you've never taken it small amounts of can turn your face and body beet-red and make you feel as you're about to explode... It's quite an experience.

[fright]
schocking-occurrence.jpg
[/fright]@waiting recommended that I try it by itself. She said it was one the few things that really helped her during her really dark years. I gave it a try....I turned beet red; it felt like my body was going to explode with heat and then as that effect diminished I felt very calm (really unusual for me) and really clear. My cognitive abilities definitely went up for awhile and my chemical sensitivities disappeared.....It was wonderful.

I've taken it several times since then. Once when I was stuck inside my van when it was raining. Something in the van was making me nauseous. I felt horrible but then the niacin worked again; after the initial "explosion" my system calmed down and my chemical sensitivities completely disappeared!

This has happened several times. I don't take it too often because I'm afraid of developing tolerance - something I tend to do with things that help me - but invariably its as if the cobwebs disappear, I can see and think more clearly, my chemical sensitivities (if present diminish) and my energy picks up a bit.

Niacin

In sauna Niacin is believed to

The theory is simple -- both saunas and niacin (vitamin B3) stimulate body detoxification in a one-two punch. Niacin speeds metabolism and acts on your body's fat at the same time, where many toxins are stored. The released toxins travel through small blood vessels, now dilated to allow freer passage. The sauna, in turn, increases body temperature, encouraging the immune system to strengthen and toxins to flush out of your pores as sweat. While experts debate if it really works, many claim a niacin and sauna detoxification has real benefits.
I wonder if niacin's effect on me have to do with its ability to dilate blood vessels. That dilation, though, only occurs near the skin

Niacin causes the blood vessels to dilate or open up near the skin, which results in a hot, tingling sensation accompanied by a red flushing of the skin.
Dr. David Williams believes that improves circulation in the legs. Nobody seems to connect it with producing calmness and helping with chemical sensitivity except in connection with a sauna program.

http://thedetoxspecialist.com/blog/cleansing/flush-out-chemicals-with-a-niacin-detox/

Wikipedia

In animal models and in vitro, niacin produces marked anti-inflammatory effects in a variety of tissues – including the brain, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and vascular tissue – through the activation of NIACR1.[81][82][83][84] Niacin has been shown to attenuate neuroinflammation and may have efficacy in treating neuroimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.[81][84] Unlike niacin, nicotinamide does not activate NIACR1, however both niacin and nicotinamide activate the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER) in vitro.[85]
WebMD

WebMD says a lot of good things about niacin but does have some warnings about it:

However, niacin is only effective as a cholesterol treatment at fairly high doses. These doses could pose risks, such as liver damage, gastrointestinal problems, or glucose intolerance. So don't treat yourself with over-the-counter niacin supplements. Instead, get advice from your health care provider, who can prescribe FDA-approved doses of niacin instead.
Some sites warn against taking 750 mg or more a day.
 

Upgrayedd

Active Member
I take niacin at night, so usually I sleep through the flushing.

My understanding is that the non-flushing niacin does not have the same effects on cholesterol. Which is not to say that non-flushing niacin doesn't have other positive effects, just that it isn't effective in lowering cholesterol.
 

Linda B

Active Member
My daughter takes activated B and sometimes suffers the niacin flush. The naturopath/pharmacist told her to take some fish oil tablets to help dampen the response (when I called her in a bit of a panic the first time.) The implication was as an "after event' strategy but we did not discuss.... if you took some fish oil prior to the niacin whether it would prevent or lessen the flush.
 

Learner

Active Member
Niacin can impact methylation, a key detoxification process. It is used to treat overmethylation.

If we increase niacin, might we also have to compensate by increasing B12, folate, and other cofactors?
 

Not dead yet!

Well-Known Member
I was prescribed 3g niacin daily (the flush kind) plus about 4g Omega 3 by a doctor who wanted to try that to lower my cholesterol. It didn't work for that (possibly because my issue was high TG). But the flushing effect did go away if you took it in stages and worked up to it.

People who use tanning beds are often sold those expensive "tanning" creams that contain niacin to flush the skin for more melanin production. Not sure if that works, but the principle is good.

I must be one of those holdover Neanderthals because if I eat high carb my TG goes through the roof (500+!) and if I eat keto-Paleo I'm just mildly high total cholesterol. Even just a normal amount of carbs will send TG up into the 400s. So my diet reasons are basically because I love my pancreas more than I love carbs.

BTW, I notice a lot of vegans here. Am I going to get into a diet war? I hope not. It's beside the point. Whatever helps you, great.

On the matter of increased blood flow in the capillaries, I imagine that helps since many of us can't exercise to get that effect.
 

mrs bumblebee

New Member
Niacin,besides being used for detoxification and high cholesterol, is used in orthomolecular medicine to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia for example, regarding the feeling of calmness. Dr Abraham Hoffer treated schizophrenic patients succesfully with high doses of niacin.

I use niacin for sleep and and anxiety, have for 15 years plus. Personally I like the flush, think it feels like I'm my own sauna sort of :happy:.
 

Not dead yet!

Well-Known Member
Niacin,besides being used for detoxification and high cholesterol, is used in orthomolecular medicine to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia for example, regarding the feeling of calmness. Dr Abraham Hoffer treated schizophrenic patients succesfully with high doses of niacin.

I use niacin for sleep and and anxiety, have for 15 years plus. Personally I like the flush, think it feels like I'm my own sauna sort of :happy:.
I have my handy orthomolecular essays book next to me, Idk if it's the same doctor but it's niacinamide and 3-6g (!) in divided doses per day. I've been experimenting with megadoses myself. Threw me for a loop and now I'm evaluating what happened.
 

mrs bumblebee

New Member
I have my handy orthomolecular essays book next to me, Idk if it's the same doctor but it's niacinamide and 3-6g (!) in divided doses per day. I've been experimenting with megadoses myself. Threw me for a loop and now I'm evaluating what happened.
That's handy, I have the information I'm trying to access in my head, which is quite uncooperative at the momento_O.
It might be the same protocol at least,I know Hoffer used both niacin and/or niacinamide among other nutrients when treating patients. But the dosage sounds about right.
I find 2 g niacinamide and 1,5 g niacin divided during the day works good for me.

What happened when you experimented with megadoses, if you don't mind me asking?
 

Not dead yet!

Well-Known Member
That's handy, I have the information I'm trying to access in my head, which is quite uncooperative at the momento_O.
It might be the same protocol at least,I know Hoffer used both niacin and/or niacinamide among other nutrients when treating patients. But the dosage sounds about right.
I find 2 g niacinamide and 1,5 g niacin divided during the day works good for me.

What happened when you experimented with megadoses, if you don't mind me asking?

Nope, don't mind. I experimented with Biotin recently and Pantothenic acid. I also take Lysine every day but I didn't understand why that was significant until later. I ended up doing some research on it and asking a question here: https://www.healthrising.org/forums/threads/question-a-strange-biotin-effect.5300/

Long story short, it produced a headache and a feeling of gut dysbiosis and I'm wondering if that's an overall good/bad thing because it looks like it made some immune changes too.
 

Learner

Active Member
Copied from Lily97's post on this page in Phoenix Rising:

http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/niacin-doubt-inositol-nicotinate-vs-nicotinic-acid.20553/page-2

"quote is from this site: http://www.enzymestuff.com/methylation.htm

Actually excess niacin is metabolized by methylation and thus uses up methyl groups. One source suggests to aim for under 75mg (usually ~50mg) of niacin+niacinamide per day from supplements. If you are taking large quantities of B3, please get your homocysteine and SAM checked to make sure this niacin isn't excessively taxing the methyl metabolism. Likewise some supplements have lots of B6 (e.g. 100mg) and between 20 and 50mg per day of B6, or less, might be better.

If you are an over-methylator, meaning you have extra, then B3 is good because it uses them up, but if you are an under-methylator, meaning deficient, then giving extra B3 is bad because it drains an already poor supply."

What this means is that the same dose of niacin could work very differently for different people. It's worth it to investigate your individual SNPs, nutrient status, and levels of toxins before choosing proportions of B vitamins and their cofactors, particularly with larger doses, or unexpected symptoms may arise.
 

Not dead yet!

Well-Known Member
Copied from Lily97's post on this page in Phoenix Rising:

http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/niacin-doubt-inositol-nicotinate-vs-nicotinic-acid.20553/page-2

"quote is from this site: http://www.enzymestuff.com/methylation.htm

Actually excess niacin is metabolized by methylation and thus uses up methyl groups. One source suggests to aim for under 75mg (usually ~50mg) of niacin+niacinamide per day from supplements. If you are taking large quantities of B3, please get your homocysteine and SAM checked to make sure this niacin isn't excessively taxing the methyl metabolism. Likewise some supplements have lots of B6 (e.g. 100mg) and between 20 and 50mg per day of B6, or less, might be better.

If you are an over-methylator, meaning you have extra, then B3 is good because it uses them up, but if you are an under-methylator, meaning deficient, then giving extra B3 is bad because it drains an already poor supply."

What this means is that the same dose of niacin could work very differently for different people. It's worth it to investigate your individual SNPs, nutrient status, and levels of toxins before choosing proportions of B vitamins and their cofactors, particularly with larger doses, or unexpected symptoms may arise.

That's very interesting. My thanks.

There's an old system of medicine , called orthomolecular that uses massive doses of Niacinamide for some mental illnesses. They specifically use vitamins in high doses as a drug. It's attractive for parents because maybe they don't want to put a biopolar child, for instance, on lithium or even more unknown quantity drugs. Since there are obviously serious benefits in that case, and the child didn't die or anything, would the body just adjust?

I'm thinking epigenetics takes over. It's a good insight though to look deeper into this, because if you stop after a high dose, you've now told your body to make larger quantities of methyl groups.

I suppose it's like any drug, there will be an adjustment when you start, and an adjustment when you stop. It's good advice to be aware of this. Sometimes if someone takes a massive dose of a vitamin they're not thinking of it in drug terms, but it is. Especially the B vitamins, they change enzyme levels a lot.

Food for thought.
 

Learner

Active Member
Your conclusions are good ones.;)

Abram Hoffer was ahead of his time. He had some wonderful reasoning leading to the discovery that high dose niacin worked well for patients in psychiatric institutions. The quote below is from:
http://www.searpubl.ca/Remembering_Abram_Hoffer.pdf

In the 1950s, Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Humphrey Osmond researched schizophrenia in Saskatchewan, Canada. They studied the causes of psychosis and restored normal brain function in patients with pellagra II (now called schizophrenia). Their work started decades after Dr. Joseph Goldberger observed that a healthy diet could heal pellagra, a non-infective condition which sent thousands to mental asylums in the southern US.

With a PhD in biochemistry, Abram Hoffer knew that brain metabolism involves both oxidation and reduction. Hoffer and Osmond discovered that in some patients, the irreversible oxidation of adrenalin can yield indole byproducts which interfere with brain function, distort perception, deplete energy and trigger psychosis.

They tested patients’ urine and found a marker of oxidative stress. They dosed
patients with two vital amines: niacin—a methyl acceptor and ascorbic acid—an
antioxidant, (vitamins B-3 and C).

75% of their acute patients recovered from schizophrenia, hallucinations, anxiety and depression. After conducting double-blind placebo-controlled studies, the first in psychiatry, Hoffer and Osmond published their findings in medical journals. Linus
Pauling, PhD coined the word ‘orthomolecular’ to describe the restorative approach.
However, there's more to the story and we now know other nutrients have roles to play in keeping us healthy.

Another researcher, Roger Williams, whose lab discovered most of the B vitamins between 1930 and 1960; coined the term human bioindividuality, after discovering that his different test subjects needed dramatically different amounts of B vitamins:

https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/biochemical-individuality-basis-for-the-genetotrophic-concept_roger-j-williams/474449/?mkwid=sB7Q2tqaS|dm&pcrid=101717364792&pkw=&pmt=&plc=&gclid=Cj0KEQiAgJTGBRDLr5_az_Ouk44BEiQAIxaA4rLaClMlmbqhcQTZsnJAHseXXImEeg4EkWMSRST5ZqcaAlzd8P8HAQ#isbn=0292700229

Today, we have tools and knowledge Hoffer and Williams lacked. We can investigate our genes and do testing to see what our genes are doing to process nutrients in the context of our environment.

Which brings us back to the point that we all need niacin, but how much of it in relation to other nutrients we need varies tremendously, so that following dosage recommendations found on a website may be counterproductive for us, and more is not necessarily better.
 
Your conclusions are good ones.;)

Abram Hoffer was ahead of his time. He had some wonderful reasoning leading to the discovery that high dose niacin worked well for patients in psychiatric institutions. The quote below is from:
http://www.searpubl.ca/Remembering_Abram_Hoffer.pdf



However, there's more to the story and we now know other nutrients have roles to play in keeping us healthy.

Another researcher, Roger Williams, whose lab discovered most of the B vitamins between 1930 and 1960; coined the term human bioindividuality, after discovering that his different test subjects needed dramatically different amounts of B vitamins:

https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/biochemical-individuality-basis-for-the-genetotrophic-concept_roger-j-williams/474449/?mkwid=sB7Q2tqaS|dm&pcrid=101717364792&pkw=&pmt=&plc=&gclid=Cj0KEQiAgJTGBRDLr5_az_Ouk44BEiQAIxaA4rLaClMlmbqhcQTZsnJAHseXXImEeg4EkWMSRST5ZqcaAlzd8P8HAQ#isbn=0292700229

Today, we have tools and knowledge Hoffer and Williams lacked. We can investigate our genes and do testing to see what our genes are doing to process nutrients in the context of our environment.

Which brings us back to the point that we all need niacin, but how much of it in relation to other nutrients we need varies tremendously, so that following dosage recommendations found on a website may be counterproductive for us, and more is not necessarily better.



I started taking Niacin in the 1970s to assist with Raynauds poor circulation, yes, big flush, face & forearms. On coming to Austrralia obtained a slow release Niacin which was much better. Niacin became unavailable so switched to Niacinamide - no flushing, I still take 500mg daily. Had severe ME/CFS in the 80s, out of work for 2 years and very prolonged recovery aided by occasional 20gms IV Vit C. Find daily B3, Folic Acid, Magnesium & Vit A plus monthly injections of Methylcobalamine essential to the 85% recovery I now enjoy. Unavoidable chemicals still cause a 'crash'. A neccessary food exclusion diet is manageable and worth it!
 
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Creekside

Active Member
Niacin made my ME symptoms worse, and also made me feel strongly suicidal. When I realized the suicidal link, I checked my diary, and sure enough, there were several prior entries of 'feel suicidal' following days that I took a niacin tablet or ate some niacin-rich foods. I've avoided niacin-rich foods since. Supplemental B12 also triggered strong suicidal moods.

There are other commonly recommended supplements/foods that worsen my symptoms. Antioxidants (or maybe it's the peroxynitrite scavenging activity) are one example. Just contrary, I guess.
 

Forebearance

Well-Known Member
I had a similar experience trying niacin, Cort.
It made my skin flush and it felt like it was causing toxins to move to the surface. Since I've spent a lot of time and effort detoxing, it was something I noticed. So I wonder if the appropriate next step would be to take a shower to wash the toxins off.

Do people ever take a shower after taking a sauna? What would happen if someone did a sequence of Niacin, Sauna, Wash?
 

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